Passover seder in my little apartment
Looking back, there is one passover that really sticks out in my mind. It was several years ago. There was a new lady at work who I had seen a few times and was in a few classes with her. She was in her late 30’s, newly married for a year to a man she worked with previously. His wife had died leaving him with two teen-aged daughters who he thought needed a mother. So he married his co-worker. Shortly after the marriage the daughters and the new husband treated her like an intruder in their mother’s home. She was the rejected one. Nice person, just unwanted.
When I mentioned that I would not be at work on a certain day because it was passover, she asked about it, saying she had known someone in the past who celebrated passover and thought it was kind of cool. Much of her side chatter at work was about new age ideology and spiritism. She credited things to the universe and once asked me if the metal crane statue in my office was my spirit guide. I said no, it’s just a metal crane.
When she asked me about passover I found myself asking her over to my little apartment for a seder, just her and I. I wondered how it would go.
She came to my home that evening. I had the table prepared with the seder plate, matza, wine glasses and a dinner waiting in the oven. We sat down and opened our hagadas, me and the unbeliever. “Tonight we light the festival candles to separate the common from the sacred.” I light the candles, say the blessing in hebrew, then english, and we begin.
I started with telling her about the four cups and the four questions in a seder. They are used to tell the story of God’s promise to free his people from slavery and bring them into the promised land. I read Exodus 6:6 where God says, I will free you, I will rescue you, I will redeem you and buy you back, I will take you as my own. The unloved, unwanted lady listened.
I told her that God said He would sanctify us and separated us to Himself. That He is able to spiritually do this. I said the kiddush. We leaned to the left and drank the 1st cup of wine, the Cup of Sanctification. Then we washed each others hands in a bowl of water dedicating the works of our hands to God.
As I started to tell her the story of slavery in Egypt with it’s hardships, bitterness, oppression and no way out, I related the child’s first question, “Why is this night so special?” It’s so special because God has a way out. He is the God who saves, miraculously. No human can do it, no false god can do it. We dipped parsley in salt water and talked about tears of oppression.
I told her there are many similarities in how God brought the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt to how God will bring each one of us from slavery to sin into freedom. Like in Egypt, it involved the sacrifice of an innocent lamb and blood covering on the door posts, so God’s judgement on wrong doing will be passed over. Passover teaches us what we are to do and who God is. When we get trapped however severe or mild, we can go through it with God into His freedom.
Continuing with the story I told her of God’s instruction to leave Egypt quickly, at midnight, when God said, “Go!”, which left them with no time to let their bread raise. So in remembrance we eat unleavened bread, matza ,which has stripes and has been pierced with holes. We are going to break it in half and wrap it in a cloth for a later time. Yeshua did this at his last seder before he died. He said to break the matza in memory of himself because, like the matza, he would be whipped, beaten, pierced and wrapped in burial cloth until a later time; three days. Then He resurrected three days after passover on the Feast of First Fruits. She did not contest this but listened a little more intently.
After the 2nd question of why we are eating bitter herbs, we dipped the matza in horseradish and puckered up. She started speaking about her own life. Then we talked of the hope of changing life events. I told her traditionally, on the Feast of Unleavened Bread which starts at midnight, the children search for leven throughout the house, which represents sin. The father leads them in the search with a light. When found the father sweeps the leven out of the house. When we go on this search with the father’s light He will sweep the sin out of our lives.
With the Child’s 3rd question we then mixed bitter herbs with sweet charocet, leaned to the left and drank the 2nd cup of deliverance. When I explained that only free people ate reclining and slaves could not, she leaned even further to the left. I think she wanted freedom. Why we lean to the left was the child’s 4rh question. Then I played a beautiful song about the King Messiah Deliverer.
When I explained that in the ten plagues God overpowered ten of the most commonly worshiped Egyptian gods, proving that they had no power and weren’t really gods at all. God alone is sovereign. He created everything. As we discussed idol worship in Egypt the discussion turned to current idols and New Age philosophy. Gradually as the seder went on I noticed she was talking about Jesus as if she already knew Him. Oh the prayer and discussions we had that night.
After dinner we talked about the innocent lamb and putting blood on the door posts so God would identify those who belong to Him. At midnight Adoni passed over Egypt to strike down the first born and bring judgement on the gods of Egypt. How we want to put the blood of our Messiah, Savior on the doorposts of our hearts and to be inside with Him and have the door shut. We do get tricked by the evil one sometimes, either by the wrong done to us and the wrong we have done. But returning to God only takes an instant of faith and repentance. We leaned to the left and drank the 3rd cup, the Cup of Redemption in deep contemplation of being passed over.
The 4th cup of Hallel, Praise lingers in my mind. The 4th “I will” statement from exodus 6:6 says, “I will take you as my own people.” God will take the Jews as His own people and all of Israel will be saved. But another layer of salvation includes gentiles who become grafted in by faith and by being doers of His word. That night my co-worker became my friend. The unwanted one was star-studded with this world of God that she had eyes to see that passover.
I did not see her for several months, maybe a year. Then I got a call. She moved away to take care of her dying father. She told him about Adonai and the passover seder as she cared for him. He accepted Yeshua as his Lord before he died. She had filed for divorce, got a nice job and bought a house. She was happy. She had a new life with her Jewish Messiah. She had love for the Hebrew bible, the word of God. This was one of my favorite seders, in my home, my little apartment, with a guest. Please know, big community seders are nice, but the most meaningful ones are with intimate conversation where you share your inner life throughout the hagada whether with an unbeliever, Jew or Gentile. Oh, Lord, next year in Jerusalem.